Not Forgotten!

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What encouragement I found in the story of Israel today, a reminder that in the worst of times, the Lord is present – but we do not always sense Him there, do we? When we make a long journey through sorrow, when we do our best with few visible results, when major disappointment comes our way, we can be tempted to reach the conclusion that God does not know or does not care. Are you in that place this morning?

Exodus opens with Israel in Egypt, grown from a small clan into an enslaved people. The favored status that they had known under Joseph was lost since gone. They had become the labor force of Egypt, building Pharaoh’s cities, a people without a future. About 4 centuries came and went since their grandfathers came to Egypt seeking relief from famine. When they prospered, the Egyptians responded by taking away their freedom, killing their sons, and making them slaves. Where was God?

The inspired text says “Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites still groaned beneath their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their pleas for deliverance rose up to God. God heard their cries and remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the Israelites and felt deep concern for their welfare.” (Exodus 2:23-25, NLT)  Let’s focus on four verbs – God heard! God remembered! God saw! God knew 

And, He had already started the process of their deliverance, though neither the Israelites or Moses were yet aware of that. When we read their story, we do so knowing the outcomes, years of experience compressed into a chapter or two. With our perspective, we wonder why they were afraid, faithless, and failing.

When we are living life, working through the trials, waiting on the Lord – it is so different. A month of struggle seems endless, doesn’t it?  The Word should remind us that we are not forgotten, that God has not abandoned us to work it out alone.  In the middle of the night, the prayers of the Israelites were cries, “God help us. Save us.” And, nothing happened …. It seemed.

God was there, unseen for the moment, but active.

Centuries later in the history of the people of God, they were once again subjected to the power of their enemies. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Assyria, the best and brightest taken to be slaves in Babylon. They felt abandoned. Isaiah reminds them of God’s care. “But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:14-16, NIV)  His love for them was as intense as that of a nursing mother for her infant. Their names, He says, are written like a reminder on His hands.

He is near you today, too. The choice we make is one of faith. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about intense persecution that nearly drove him to despair. People rejected his message. There were attempts to kill him. The law was used against him. Was it hard? You judge as you read his words. “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.”  Been there?  Here is the truth – God hears! God remembers! God sees! God knows!

Let this word from the Word inspire you. Paul, after telling of the troubles he knew, says that God’s Spirit resides in him, like a ‘treasure stored in an ordinary clay pot.’  Don’t you love that?

God’s Spirit is with us today. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV)

__________

Lord I Need You

(A prayer in song.)

Lord I come I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
And without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

 Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

 Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

 So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

 Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher
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